Exclusive: Data Reveals The Films Where Critics And Audiences Disagree Most

By James O Malley on at

Have you ever sat down to watch that film that critics are raving about only to be massive unimpressed? Sure, Mark Kermode might have *loved* The Florida Project, but let’s be honest - what it really needed was a few more car chases and explosions to liven things up.

In fact, it often seems like critics and ordinary cinema-goers are at loggerheads: They want beautifully crafted tales about people in the olden days having feelings, which elucidates universal truths about the human condition. While we want massive robots hitting other robots.

Yesterday, we told you about the films that critics simply can’t agree on. Today Gizmodo UK is exclusively revealing data that shows just how differently critics think to ordinary cinemagoers.

In our second dive into film criticism, we present details on the films where there is the largest gap between critical and popular opinion. We can reveal that the film most beloved by audience relative to the critics is 2016’s Warcraft, followed by the likes of Love Actually, Die Another Day and Batman v Superman.

And for some reason, critics like Fifty Shades of Grey much more than audiences do.

Read on for the full list.

How We Calculated It

This story follows our post yesterday, in which we revealed the films that are the most divisive amongst film critics themselves. As we described yesterday, we scraped a large dataset of over 9500 films from Metacritic for analysis - and you can click the link to read all of the caveats about it there if you wish.

For comparing to what normal cinemagoers like, we simply took the Metacritic user score as our indicator. This is probably weighted to attempt to correct for click campaigns and the like - and it is presumably susceptible to it (as you will soon see!). But this is the best measure we have - and it is as close to an objective measure of audience sentiment as we’re going to plausibly get. Oh, and for some reason, though Metacritic normalises audience scores to being out of 100, it gives user scores out of 10. So that in order to compare like-with-almost-like, we’ve applied a complex scientific algorithm known as “multiplying by ten” to the user scores. And once again, we’ve limited this to films that have 40 or more critics reviews, so that no individual review can cause massive swings in the data.

The “Critic Scores” listed are the average (mean) of all of the reviews for the given film, user scores are the aforementioned scores given by users and the “gap” is simply one subtracted from the other.

The Films Loved By Audiences More Than Critics

Here’s the top 50 films that were more loved by audiences than critics.

What’s particularly interesting is that this appears to suggest audiences are much more forgiving, even when critics completely eviscerate bad films. Everyone knows that Die Another Day and The Lone Ranger are famous stinkers - but apparently audiences like it much more than the people paid to review films.

Perhaps the ranking of Love Actually shows that this is, to a certain extent, a ranking of so-called “guilty pleasures”?

Oh, and amusingly both 2004’s King Arthur and this year’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword rank towards the top of the list. Critics clearly hate Arthurian legend - but audiences are much more enthusiastic.

The Films Loved By Critics But Hated By Audiences

So what about the other way around? What about films that critics loved much more than audiences? This list actually surprised me, as it wasn’t just a list of sophisticated arthouse films that we plebs wouldn’t understand - it also includes a number of blockbusters.

As you can see, right at the top of the list is the 2016 remake/reboot of Ghostbusters - with critics giving it a whopping 43 points more than audiences on average. Whether we should take this as gospel, or a true reflection of the feelings of the general public is questionable though. The ranking of it makes me wonder if Metacritic’s user ratings have been manipulated by a deliberate campaign against the film - which wouldn’t be surprising given the release was marred by Men On The Internet getting very angry.

The high rank of Fifty Shades of Grey is also unexpected. Remember, this is a ranking of the difference in critic and public perceptions, not actual quality of the films: And this strongly suggest that critics, while still giving Fifty Shades a mediocre score, still rate much more highly than normal viewers. Perhaps there was also a campaign against this film? Or perhaps Fifty Shades is simply something people love to hate?

There is, however, also plenty of Oscar winners and Oscar-bait in there - which appears to not have connected with audiences to the same extent it connected with critics. Moonlight, Mr Turner, Boyhood, Cold Mountain, The Birth of a Nation and so on. All very worthy - but sometimes you just want to slouch in front of the sofa, fire up Netflix and zone out watching Starsky & Hutch, right?

Just don’t tell the critics.

Tune in to Gizmodo UK again tomorrow for some more data-driven movie insights.

James O’Malley is Interim Editor of Gizmodo UK and tweets as @Psythor.

Read More: The Most Divisive Films Amongst Film Critics